The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is soliciting public comments on a proposed industry-wide measurement framework designed to assess the implementation and use of healthcare interoperability standards.

“Stakeholders’ current capabilities to measure interoperability standards vary significantly across the health IT ecosystem,” states the document. “This framework aims to help health IT developers, health information exchange organizations and healthcare providers move towards a set of uniform measures to assess interoperability progress.”

ONC contends that this measurement is critical to better understanding the variability in how standards are implemented in the field, including where this variability is occurring and potentially impeding interoperability. The goal is to reach consensus on industry-wide measures to assess the implementation and use of standards.

“Accurate measurement will require strong support and participation from multiple health IT stakeholders,” writes Steve Posnack, director of ONC’s Office of Standards and Technology, in an April 26 blog. “Feedback will help us to engage and coordinate with stakeholders, especially those who may be in the best position to contribute data toward industry-wide measures.”

Steve Posnack

Among the questions ONC is looking to answer: Is a voluntary, industry-based measure reporting system the best means to implement this framework? And what barriers might exist to a voluntary, industry-based measure reporting system, and what mechanisms or approaches could be considered to maximize this system’s value to stakeholders?

For three years, ONC has issued its Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA), providing the healthcare industry with a listing of standards and implementation specifications meant to enhance the flow of electronic health information.

Also See: ONC releases 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory

While the ISA seeks to give some guidance on standards measurement by estimating a standard’s implementation and use in the field, Posnack acknowledges that quantifiable data regarding the implementation and use of standards today is often not readily available or regularly tracked.

“Ultimately, a finalized measurement framework would enable aggregate, industry-wide statistics that could be used as a resource by all stakeholders to inform business decisions, enrich policy deliberations and enhance the accuracy of the guidance provided by the ISA,” concludes Posnack.

ONC is accepting comments on the framework until 5 p.m. ET on July 31. The agency notes that comments and recommendations submitted as part of this process will be made public.

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